Ethiopia - Tana Lake, Bahir Dar

Tana Lake, Bahir Dar

According to guidebook it takes almost 5 hours to go from Gondar to Bahir Dar. We traveled only 3 hours. Chinese had just finished constructing new road.  It was the best route in Ethiopia.

Tsehay Pension was our accommodation in Bahir Dar. The double room cost 230 birr. Instead of traditional Ethiopian food we had  burger with french fries at local fast-food restaurant. It cost 65 birr.

In the afternoon we strolled along Lake Tana. Suddenly, we heard songs coming from the city. We went towards the sounds and joined the procession. It was final day of the Timkat festival. Local people, traditionally dressed, were walking, praying and singing. The rest of the day we spent at local cafe, enjoying delicious coffee and beautiful views on Tana Lake.

Next day we got up at 6 o'clock in the morning and went to a ferry harber. It was long line to ticket office. Only local people traveled by ferry, tourist prefer to rent a boat. A cashier wanted to cheat us and tried to sell us ticket for triple price. We firmly wanted to pay listed price and even local people supported us. Finally we paid normal price - 59 birr. 

The ferry was late about an hour. It tooks about an hour to get to Zege Peninsula. I think it is boring to travel by boat at Tana Lake all day trip. 1-3 hours of boat trip is perfect.

We had breakfast with organic coffee on the peninsula. It is famous of coffee plantations.

Ura Kidane Mehret church was our first destination. On the way, local guides offered us their service. We kindle refused it and luckily they were not very pushy. It was easy to find the trail to the church. You can always use mobile phone navigation. I recommend .

Outside Ura Kidane Mehret is disappointing but it is beautifully decorated with XVI century paintings inside. Traditionally scenes from the Old and New Testaments are the subject of the paintings. The paintings were renovated at the beginning of XX century. Don't forget to visit small museum. It is included in the price - 100 birr.

We left Ura Kidane Mehret and took forest trail to a next destination. On the way we passed cocoa, banana and coffee trees. Herds of monkeys accompanied us.  Bete Selassie is charming located, round church. There are two sections inside. The second section one can only be access by men but the ladies can see all decorations from the first section. A ticket cost 50 birr.

There are many churches on Tana Lake islands. It is good to visit most of them for people interested in sacred art or architecture but it is enough to see a few churches for ordinary tourists. Entrance fee is 50-100 birr. If you visit many churches it makes quite a lot of money. Women are not allowed to access some churches. Check it in advance.

At the end of Zege peninsula trip we trekked to Afaf village, typical Ethiopian village with one paved street and modest houses covered with corrugated metal roofs.  Adult don't pay any attention to tourists but children followed us all the way to the bus terminal. There are so many commuters at bus terminal that we decided to take share taxi to Bahir Dar.

We went to local market in the late afternoon. It was very interesting experience. We chatted about life in Ethiopia and Europe, local customs and religions with local salesmen. Christians and Muslims have businesses next to each other. Some of them are friends. 

Next day we went to Blue Nile Falls by local bus - 15 birr. We got off the bus in  Tis Abay. The trip was nightmare. A passenger had a canister with petrol. It sink terribly in the bus.

In Tis Abay we had to buy a ticket to Blue Nile Falls - 50 birr and trek to the falls. It would be very nice trekking hower local howkers, children, followed us and tried to sell souvenirs all the way. We crossed old portugues stone made bridge, modern line bridge and reached the destination. Blue Nile Falls is very spectacular at rainy season but at dry season it is still worth to see. You can watch it at a short movie:

We spent three days at Tana Lake. At last day we took a taxi (200 birr) to the airport and went to next destination - Mekele by plane. There is no direct flight connection from Bahir Dar to Mekele and we had to fly via Addis Abeba.